Turkology (or Turcology) is a complex of humanities sciences studying languages, history, literature, folklore, culture, and ethnology of people speaking Turkic languages and Turkic peoples in chronological and comparative context. This includes ethnic groups from the Sakha in East Siberia to the Balkan Turks and Gagauz in Moldova.
Ethnological information on Turkic tribes for the first time was systemized by the 11th-century Turkic philologist Mahmud al-Kashgari in the D?w?n ul-Lughat it-Turk (Dictionary of Turkic language). Multi-lingual dictionaries were compiled from the late 13th century for the practical application of participants in international trade and political life: Kipchak (Cuman)-Persian-Latin-German Codex Cumanicus, Armenian-Kipchak, and Russian-Kipchak dictionaries. By the Middle Ages the Turkology was centred around Byzantine/Greek historians, ambassadors and travelers, and geographers. In the 15th-17th centuries the main subject of Turkology was the study of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish language, and the Turkic languages of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. In 1533 a first hand-written primer appeared, and by 1612 a printed grammar by Jerome Megizer was published, followed by F. Mesgnien-Meninski's 4-volume Thesaurus Linguarum Orientalium published in 1680.
P. S. Pallas initiated a more scientific approach to Turkology with his Comparative dictionaries of all languages and dialects (1787) which included lexical materials from Tatar, Mishar, Nogai, Bashkir, and other Turkic languages. In the 19th century, Turkology was further developed by M. A. Kazembek's Grammar of the Turkish-Tatar language (1839), O. N. Betlingk Grammar of the Yakut language (1851). A major achievement was the deciphering at the end of the 19th century of the Early Middle Age Orkhon inscriptions by V. Thomsen and W. W. Radloff (1895). By the end of the 19th century, Turkology developed into a complex discipline that included linguistics, history, ethnology, archeology, arts and literature. In the 20th century the Turkology complex included physical anthropology, numismatics, genetics, ancient Turkic alphabetic scripts, typology, genesis, and etymology, onomastics and toponymy. The appearance of Türkische Bibliothek (1905-27) inaugurated specialised periodicals, followed by Mitteilungen zur Osmanischen Geschichte (1921-26). Scientific developments allowed calibrated dating, dendrochronology, metallurgy, chemistry, textile, and other specialized disciplines which contributed to the development of the Turkological studies. Deeper study of the ancient sources allowed better understanding of economical, social, mythological and cultural forces of the sedentary and nomadic societies. Linguistic studies uncovered pre-literate symbioses and mutual influences between different peoples.
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On 9 August 1944 the Central Committee VKP(b), the ruling party of the USSR, published an edict prohibiting "ancientization" of Turkic history. The edict was followed by a consecutive wave of mass arrests, imprisoning and killing of the Turkology intelligentsia, massive creation of replacement scientists, and re-writing of history pages on an industrial scale.
Many Turkology scholars in Russia were persecuted or imprisoned by Stalin's political oppression movement, The Great Purge, occurring during the 1930s-1940s, on the basis of disputed Islamic writings and publications. Other cultural Scholars, such as Egyptologists and Japanologists were also subject to the polictical reppression, in Stalin's movement to cleanse Communist Russia on ethnic minorities that posed opposition to Communism.
Most Oriental and other cultural scholars that had been repressed in the 1930s and 1940s (as well as their respective scientific works) were, however, officially rehabilitated in or after 1956.
On the other hand, this edict brought unintended benefits to Turkology. One was the nearly immediate linguistic development of an alternate lexicon which replaced the nouns and adjectives containing the word "Türk" by a wealth of euphemisms: "nomads, Siberians, Paleosiberians, Middle Asians, Scythians, Altaians, Tuvians", etc. that filled scientific publications. The other was "writing into a drawer", when results of the years of fruitful work were written down for future publication. When the bonds relaxed, the publications exploded. Another was a flight of scientists from European Russia into remote areas, which brought first class scientists to many intellectually starved outlying areas of Middle Asia. Another one was connected with the statewide efforts to re-invent the history, when a wealth of Turkological facts were found in the process of search for "correct" history. And another one was a built-up of the public interest for the forbidden subjects, that resulted that no print size could satisfy the demand. L.N.Gumilev and O.Suleimenov inflamed a surge in the new generation of Turkology scholars.
With the physical culling of the scholars from the society, an organized a total extermination of all their published and unpublished works took place concurrently. Their books were removed from the libraries and destroyed from private collections by intimidated population, articles and publications were culled, published photographs were retouched, private photographs were destroyed, published scientific references were erased, or publications with undesired references were destroyed. Very few of the early 20th century expedition diaries, ethnographical notes, reports and drafts for publications were ever recovered.
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|Abdrahimov Ali Rahim (Ali Shakirovich, 1892-1943)||Turkologist, scientist, literary critic, writer, docent of Eastern Pedagogical Institute in Kazan. Was arrested and incarcerated (dates unknown). After serving the term of the sentence A.Abdrahimov returned to Kazan, and was arrested again and sentenced to 10 years of hard labor in concentration camp|
|Aivazov Asan Sabri (1878-1938)||A Crimean, scientist, journalist, translator, teacher, editor of Tatar newspapers, member of "Kurultai". Served as an envoy of Regional Government to Turkey. Persecuted by Crimean ASSR People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) for participation in "nationalist counterrevolutionary organization", shot to death in Simferopol|
|Akchokrakly Osman Nuri Asad (1878-1938)||Historian, writer, teacher, journalist,taught in Zindjirli medrese, in 1917 was elected a regional "Kurultai" delegate, was shot to death in Simferopol imprisonment|
|Akhatov Gabdulkhay Khuramovich (1927-1986)||Scientist, professor of philology (1970), Turkologist, public figure, founder of modern Tatar dialectology and creator of the Kazan 'school of phraseology, the author of fundamental scientific works and textbooks (Tatarstan, Russia, USSR)|
|Asfendiarov Sanjar Jafarovich (1889-1938)||Turkologist, Rector of the Moscow Oriental Studies Institute. Shot to death|
|Baiburtly Yagya Nadji Suleiman (1876-1943)||Principal in Türkic school in Bakhchisarai, journalist, delegate of regional "Kurultai" (1917), persecuted by NKVD of Crimean ASSR for participation in "nationalist counterrevolutionary organization", shot to death in Arkhangelsk imprisonment|
|Baytusyn Akhmet (1873-1937)||Scientist, public figure, member of Russian parliament (1905-06), Kazakh free thinker, first researcher of Kazakh epos and folklore, author of alphabet textbook, phonetics and syntax rules, etymology of Kazakh language, was sentenced to death in 1931, spent years in concentration camps, freed in 1935 after petition of M.Gorky's wife, re-arrested and shot to death in 1937|
|Baryi Battal-Taimas (Saetbattalov Gabdelbaryi, 1883-1969)||Historian, literary critic, publicist, editor of newspaper "Altai" (1918). Arrested, incarcerated, in 1921 escaped from a Soviet concentration camp and fled abroad. Buried in Istanbul|
|Bertels Eugene Edwardovich (1890-1957)||Iranist and Turkologist, corresponding member of USSR Academy of Sciences (1939), a member academician of Tehran Academy (Iran, 1944), Ashgabat Academy (Turkmenistan, 1951), Damascus Academy (Syria, 1951), staff member of Asian Museum, Art History Institute, Leningrad State University, and Leningrad Institute of Eastern Languages. He was arrested three times, in 1922, then in 1925 as a "French spy", and again in 1941 as a "German spy", but survived to tell his story.|
|Bodaninsky Usein Abdrefi (1877-1938)||Ethnographer, artist, critic. From 1917 Bodaninsky was a director of the Bakhchisarai museum, he was an organizer of ethnographical and archeological expeditions. Shot to death in Simferopol|
|Cherman Timofei Pavlovich (?)||Economist, historian, bibliographer, expert on Turkey. Was incarcerated, details unknown|
|Choban-zade Bekir Vagap ogly (1893-1937)||Outstanding Soviet Turkologist. A Crimean Tatar, a son of a peasant, a graduate of Budapest University, a Dean in University. Active participant in Stalinist "language construction", from 1924 worked in Baku. In 1937 arrested (like Alexander Samoylovich, arrested in Kislovodsk, but several months earlier) and shot to death. Biography see F.D.Ashnin "Bekir Choban-zade Vagap"/Peoples of Asia and Africa, 1967, No 1, p. 208.|
|Cholpan (1897-1937)||Uzbek writer and scientist. Killed in Stalinist persecutions|
|A. A. Divay (1855-1933)||Bashkurt field collector, Inspector, collector|
|Fielstrup Feodor Arturovich (1889-?)||Turkologist - ethnographer. Ethnographic department of Russian Museum, employee in "Commission for Study of Tribal Composition of Russia's Population and neighboring Countries". Arrested ca. 1933, died during interrogations|
|Gubaidullin Gaziz (Gabdulgaziz Salihovich, 1887-1937)||Historian, professor (1927) in Azerbaijan University. Arrested and shot to death|
|Hakim Nigmat (?)||Turkologist, linguist. Docent of Tatar language faculty in Kazan Pedagogical Institute. Arrested in 1936 and perished without a trace|
|Huluflu Veli (?)||Historian of the literature. Director of Azarbaijan SSR Language, Literature and Arts Institute, head of the Sektor of arts in Azerbaijan branch of USSR Academy of Sciences (1934-1937). Arrested in 1937 and perished without a trace|
|Keyekbaev Jalil Giniyatovich (1911-1968)||Turkologist, linguist.Professor of Bashkir language faculty in Bashkir State University. The founder of the modern school of Bashkir linguistics. He proved the kinship of Turkic and Ural-Altai languages|
|Kudoyarov Galyautdin Gainutdinovich (189I-1966)||Publicist, teacher, Tatarstan ASSR Narkom (People's Commissar) of Education (1931). Was persecuted twice (details unknown)|
|Khudyakov Michael Georgievich (1894-1936)||Archeologist, researcher of history and culture of Volga region peoples. Institute for Study of USSR Peoples (Leningrad), docent in Leningrad State Historico-Linguistical Institute, USSR Academy State Institute of History of Material Culture. Arrested and executed in 1936|
|Latynin Boris Alexandrovich (1899-1967)||Archeologist, ethnographer, scholar on cultures of Central Asia and Volga region peoples. Arrested in 1935, lost leg in incarceration, released in 40es, subsequently worked in Hermitage|
|Leibovich Eugene Solomon (?)||Archeologist and ethnographer (peoples of Volga region and Urals). Arrested in 1936 and vanished|
|Mansurov Gasim Gatievich (1894-1955)||Historian, lecturer, in 1920es worked for state government in Kazan, then scientific work in Moscow, author of two monographs on problems of Tatar revolutionary movement. Was persecuted (details unknown), after release lived in Murom|
|Martinovich Nikolai Nikolaevich (1883-1939)||Turkologist-ethnographer and specialist in folklore. Professor, lecturer in Petrograd University, associate in Russian museum, was arrested in 1920 and in 1921, in 1922 fled to exile|
|Miller Alexander Alexandrovich (1875-1937)||Caucasologist, ethnographer, archeologist, linguist, expert on prehistoric art, professor of archeology, professor of Georgian language, head of ethnographical department in Russian museum. Arrested in 1933, exiled to Tashkent, arrested again in 1937 and believed to have died in the Tashkent prison|
|Mirbaba ogly Usif Vesir (Chemenzemenly) (1887-1943)||Azerbaijan writer, historian of the literature and specialist in folklore. Arrested in 1937 and perished without a trace|
|Mukhamedzhan Tynyshpaev (1879-1937?)||Kazakh railroad engineer, activist, historian, member of the Alash Orda, sentenced to prison in 1937 and was eventually executed in Tashkent,|
|Novichev Aron Davydovich (1902-1987) (family name Rabinovic)||Turkologist, PhD in history, professor of Leningrad University. From 1932 to 1937 worked in Institute of Oriental Studies of the USSR Academy of Sciences, scientific secretary of Turkologists' Association. Arrested in 1937, exiled until 1940. Subsequently, worked in Oriental Institute and Leningrad University|
|Odabash (Temirdjan) Abibulla Abdureshid (1891 - 1938?)||Lecturer in the Crimean Pedagogical Institute, delegate of "Kurultai", editor of "Eshil ada" and "Bilgi" magazines. Odabash was arrested in 1928 and vanished|
|Polivanov Eugene Dmitrievich (1891-1938)||Linguist-Orientalist (Japanese, Chinese, Dungan, Korean, Turkic and other languages), theorist in linguistics. In 1915-1921 professor in Petrograd University, in 1917-1918 E.Polivanov headed Foreign Ministry Oriental Relations department, in 1921-1926 he worked for state apparatus and taught in Tashkent University, in 1926-1929 in Moscow, in 1929-1934 in Samarkand (1929-1931), Tashkent (1931-1934), in 1934-1937 in Kirgiz Scientific Research Institute of Kirgiz Language and Writing (Frunze) and Frunze Pedagogical Institute. Arrested in 1937, declared to be a Japanese spy, shot to death in 1938 in Moscow|
|Radloff Fridrich Wilhelm (Radlov Vasily Vasilievich, 1837-1918)||Outstanding Turkologist, graduated Berlin University, from 1858 worked in Russia, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, teacher of Alexander Samoylovich. Stalinists' proclaiming an ethnically German Radlov a "Pantürkist" was especially ridiculous|
|Rudenko Sergey Ivanovich (1885-1969)||Archeologist and ethnographer, worked in Transbaikalia, Altai, Kazakhstan and Bashkiria, professor in Petrograd University, head of ethnographical department in Russian museum, scientific secretary of state "Commission for Study of Tribal Composition of Russia's Population and neighboring Countries". Arrested in 1931 and sentenced to 10 years in BelBaltlLag concentration camp. Transferred in 1934 to forced labor in Belomor-Baltic Canal Combine as a hydrologist. Returned to archeology in 1945, in 1947-1954 headed excavations of famous Scythian time Pazyryk kurgans in the Altai Mountains|
|Rykov Paul Sergeevich (1884-1942)||Archeologist, worked in Volga and Kazakhstan regions for USSR State Academy Institute of History of Material Culture. Fell under Stalinist persecution in 1938 and perished without a trace.|
|Sagidov Karim Muhamet (1888-1939)||Turkologist, Iranist. From 1934 in Historical-Archeological Institute (History Institute), Oriental Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Arrested in 1936, in 1936 "Special Cmission" of Leningrad Provincial Court sentenced him to 5 years of hard labor in a Far Eastern concentration camp by infamous Article 58, in 1939 he was released because of poor health, and died on the way home|
|Saifi Fatyh Kameletdin (?)||Turkologist-historian, a senior lecturer of Kazan (East) Pedagogical Institute. Arrested in 1936 and perished without a trace|
|Samoylovich Alexander Nikolaevich (1880-1938)||Turkologist, academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences, in 1934-1937 director of Oriental Institute. Arrested in 1937, shot to death in 1938|
|Sharaf Galimdyan Sharafutdinovich (1896-1950)||Scientist-linguist, political figure of national movement. Was arrested and persecuted|
|Schmidt Alexey Viktorovich (1884 or 1885-1935)||Archeologist (Volga region, Kama, Ural) and Africanist ethnographer. USSR Academy State Institute of History of Material Culture, head of Africa department of USSR Academy of Sciences Anthropology and Ethnography Institute. Arrested in 1933 ("Russian Museum Case"), died in 1935 during NKVD interrogations|
|Serov Anton Mikhailovich (?)||Turkologist student. Arrested in 1949, imprisoned until general amnesty to the victims of Stalinist persecutions in the middle of the 50es|
|Sheikhzade Maksud (1908-1967)||Azerbaijani, then Uzbek writer, translator, literary critic. In the end of 1920es exiled from Azerbaijan to Uzbekistan as "nationalist" (stood up for preservation of his national culture and language). Arrested again in 1951, imprisoned until general amnesty to the victims of Stalinist persecutions in the middle of the 50es, freed in the middle of 1950es|
|Shteinberg Lev (Haim) Yakovlevich (1861-1927)||Ethnographer, expert on peoples of Siberia and North. Worked in USSR Academy of Sciences Anthropology and Ethnography Institute, corresponding member of USSR Academy of Sciences. Arrested in 1921, freed after petition of M.Gorky|
|Sidorov Alexey (?)||Student of Oriental department in Leningrad State University, major Turkologist - linguist. Arrested in 1949, imprisoned until general amnesty to the victims of Stalinist persecutions in 1956, mentally sick at release, committed suicide|
|Sultan-Galiev Mirsaid Haidargalievich (1892-1940)||One of outstanding organizers of Tatarstan state, member of Narkomnats (People's Commissariate for Nationalities) Board. The largest case fabricated by NKVD was connected with Sultan-Galiev's name, a "sultangaleevshchina" in Stalinist lingo, for targeted destruction of the national educated layer in the Turkic republics of the former USSR. M.Sultan-Galiev was arrested and shot to death|
|Talanov Nikolai Georgievich (1897-1938)||Historian of Central Asia, Turkologist. Secretary of Leningrad Oriental Institute, Oriental Institute in 1931-1933, from 1935 director of Ethnography Museum. Arrested in 1937, Article 58-10, 2nd field session of the USSR Supreme Court sentenced him in 1938 to the highest measure of punishment, on the same day shot to death in Leningrad|
|Tchernyshev Eugeny Ivanovich (1894-?)||Historian of Tataria. Docent of Kazan Pedagogical Institute. Arrested in 1936 and perished without a trace|
|Teploukhov Sergey Alexandrovich (1888-1934?)||Archeologist, ethnographer of Sibiria. Worked in USSR State Institute of History of Material Culture, Russian Museum, as a senior lecturer in Leningrad State University. Arrested in 1934, in prison committed suicide|
|Tsedenishe (?)||Mongoloigist. Lecturer in Leningrad Oriental Institute. Arrested in 1936 or 1937 and perished without a trace|
|Tsintsius Vera Ivanovna (1903-1981)||Expert on Tungus-Manchurian languages, worked in Northern Peoples Institute. Arrested in 1936, was imprisoned from 1937 to 1940. After the WWII she worked in Linguistic Institute in Leningrad|
|Tsovikian Horem Mkrt (1900-1942)||Ethnically Armenian Turkologist and historian. Docent of Leningrad Oriental Institute, researcher in Oriental Institute. Arrested in 1938, incarcerated in local jail of the Leningrad People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs until his release in August 1939. Died during WWII blockade of Leningrad|
|Ukhtomsky Alexander Alekseevich, prince, bishop with chosen name Andrey, (1872-1937)||Chairman of Eastern-Russian cultural educational society, bishop of Ufa and Menzelinsky from 1913, founder of magazine "Beyond-Volga chronist", member of the Most Holy Synod (1917), was arrested numerous times, shot to death under decision of NKVD "troyka" of Yaroslavl province.|
|Umnyakov Ivan Ivanovich (1890-1976)||Historian, archeologist, scholar on W. W. Bartold's works. Arrested at the end of 1920es or early 1930es. Is known to spend the first half of 1930es in Arkhangelsk exile. Survived persecutions of the Stalinist period|
|Vahidov Said Gabdulmannan (1887-1937)||Archeograph scientist, historian. Arrested, persecuted, and shot to death|
|Validi-Togan Zaki (Validov Ahmetzaki Ahmetshakhovich, 1890-1970)||Historian, Turkologist, academician, political figure, head of the first government of Bashkiria (1918). To avoid capture and persecution fled to Turkey.|
|Vasmer Richard Wilhelm George (Roman Romanovich, Richard Richardovich) (1888-1938)||Orientalist in Arabic, Persian, and Turkic, Semitic, Hebrew, and Syriac. Headed Hermitage department of Eastern Coins. Arrested in 1936, died in exile (after concentration camp) in Tashkent|
|Zabirov Vali Abdurahman (1897-1937)||A Tatar scientist, Turkologist, post-graduate student of Oriental Studies Institute of USSR Academy of Sciences, a lecturer in Leningrad Oriental Institute. Arrested in 1936, shot to death in Solovki in 1937|
|Ahatanhel Krymsky (1871 - 1942)||A Ukrainian-Tatar Orientalist, linguist and polyglot, literary scholar, folklorist, writer, and translator. Krymsky contributed about hundred entries to the Brockhaus, Efron, and Granat encyclopedias and wrote many other works on Arabic, Turkish, Turkic, Crimean Tatar, and Iranian history and literature, some of which were pioneering textbooks in Russian Oriental studies. Among others, he wrote histories of Turkey and their literature; monographs on Hafiz and his songs and on the Turkic peoples, their languages, and literatures; and edited a collection of articles on the Crimean Tatars. In July 1941 the NKVD imprisoned him in Kostanay General Prison, where he died.|
The field of Turkology has been heavily influenced by pseudoscientific theories often referred to as Pseudo-Turkology. Such theories contend that Turkic history stretches back hundreds of thousands of years, and that every major civilization in history is of Turkic origin. Though universally discredited in mainstream scholarship, pan-Turkic pseudoscientific theories have gained widespread support in many Turkic-speaking countries, where it has served as a form of national therapy, helping its proponents cope with the failures of the past.
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A selection of English-language periodicals studying Turkology
According to Adzhi, Huns, Alans, Goths, Burgundians, Saxons, Alemans, Angles, Langobards and many of the Russians were ethnic Turks.161 The list of non-Turks is relatively short and seems to comprise only Jews, Chinese, Armenians, Greeks, Persians, and Scandinavians... Mirfatykh Zakiev, a Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Tatar ASSR and professor of philology who has published hundreds of scientific works, argues that proto-Turkish is the starting point of the Indo-European languages. Zakiev and his colleagues claim to have discovered the Tatar roots of the Sumerian, ancient Greek and Icelandic languages and deciphered Etruscan and Minoan writings.